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June 2005 Archives

June 10, 2005

Testing... 1... 2... 3...

New server. Testing to see whether it works. If you're reading this, it did.

June 20, 2005

So sue me

I was intrigued by this entry over at Point of Law describing a rather overenthusiastic fan of the legal system:

Serial litigant Utahn Holli Lundahl has been barred from filing further appeals before the 10th Circuit, according to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune. According to the article, Lundahl has filed more than 100 lawsuits in various courts and has been barred or restricted from filing further lawsuits on her own behalf by a variety of courts. The U.S. Supreme Court, in particular, has prohibited her from filing further non-criminal papers there.

In the 10th Circuit case, Eli Lilly and another defendant claim to have spent more than $1 million in defending themselves against Lundahl's claims, which the 10th Circuit called, "fanciful, implausible and bizarre."

So I decided to do a little Googling to find out more about her.

Conclusion? I think we can safely say that Ms. Lundahl is a tad too eager to spend her time in court. How can I tell? Well, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you know someone is overly litigious when... shewins her case -- and then tries to appeal anyway.

But, once you get past the amusing anecdotes about this woman, this story has a more serious purpose: it goes to show just how misleading the opponents of tort reform are when they claim that frivolous litigation isn't a problem because courts can deal with it. Courts have a very difficult time doing so, or at least are very reluctant to do so. (Such a claim is disingenuous in another way, in that it conceals the fact that "frivolous" means something very different to the layperson and the courts.)

It may not cost every defendant $1 million to deal with a vexatious litigant, but even if it only costs a few thousand, those defense costs add up when someone files a hundred different suits.

June 24, 2005

Mark Twain was right

No man's life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

One can hardly say that the Kelo v. New London decision was unexpected, but it's still horribly depressing. I don't have time to write as much as I'd like about the decision, so I'll just do a few random thoughts.

  1. Quoting Justice Stevens' majority opinion: "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government." He just left out the word "Soviet" before government. Wasn't it liberals who used to find the statement, "What's good for General Motors is good for America" to be odious? Now they've enshrined it as official Constitutional policy.
  2. We currently have a Supreme Court that believes that something which is neither interstate nor commerce is somehow governed by a power over interstate commerce, and a private company's private profit is a public use.
  3. What the heck is up with Anthony Kennedy? Just a year ago, Randy Barnett was celebrating him as a libertarian justice for his Lawrence v. Texas decision; now he gives us Raich and Kelo? Yes, he attempted to limit the holding of Kelo with his concurrence, but it was a pretty perfunctory effort, and it didn't keep him from signing on to Stevens' opinion. Is he trying to court Democratic senators in an effort to campaign for the Chief Justice job after Rehnquist retires?
  4. Speaking of Kennedy's defection, if you had told me that one of the conservative five was going to defect in both Raich and Kelo, I would have guessed O'Connor; instead, she wrote stirring, principled dissents. No six part balancing test to decide when government can seize private property for the benefit of developers, but a simple declarative statement: "Are economic development takings constitutional? I would hold that they are not."
  5. What's particularly horrible about Raich and Kelo is how broad they are. They might have been limited to their specifcs, but instead we got Raich fully endorsing Wickard, holding that there are no limits to federal power under the Commerce Clause. And we got Kelo, holding that the "private use" limitation in the Takings Clause doesn't exist. There is, for all practical purposes, nothing which isn't interstate commerce, and nothing which isn't a public use.
  6. The good news is that this decision, unlike the awful Raich one, was only 5-4 The bad news is that the Justice most likely to retire is Chief Justice Rehnquist (and Sandra Day O'Connor?), who was on the right side of both decisions, rather than any of the liberals -- though we can always hold out hope on the 85-year old Stevens.
  7. Liberals often deny that they support big government for the sake of big government. They insist they support big government only for the good (in their view) things it can accomplish. Even if that could be said to be true, it's a distinction without a difference. They support big government unconditionally, merely in the hope that sometimes it will do those good things.
Anyway, as I said, I'm depressed right now. With the exception of the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to the federal bench, this has not been a good year for libertarians. Social Security privatization is stalled, federalism is deader than Terri Schiavo, the drug war remains in full effect, and private property exists only at the sufferance of local government, bought and paid for by real estate developers and other big businesses.

June 28, 2005

Slimy politician of the daymonth

Republican Congressman Tom Davis, last known for holding Congressional hearings on the key national security issue of the private lives of major league baseball players, is at it again. With all major national problems resolved, he has come up with a new issue to focus Congressional attention on: who should own a major league baseball team.

One might think that would be an issue for a private business to work out -- but as the Supreme Court showed just last week, in the modern world of Washington DC, there's no such thing as private business.

The hearings chaired by Davis a couple of months ago, as outrageous as they were, at least theoretically bore some distant relationship to federal policy. One may question -- and so I do -- why the federal government would have a policy on steroid use, but it does, so there's some logic in holding hearings on the subject.

But now? Now Davis is threatening partisan retaliation against Major League Baseball if they allow someone he doesn't like to own a team:

Republicans in Congress threatened Major League Baseball on Monday with repeal of its antitrust exemption if billionaire financier George Soros is involved in buying the Washington Nationals.

Soros, who contributed more than $20 million to groups in an attempt to unseat President Bush last year, recently joined an ownership group led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky.


"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," House Government Reform chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., told Roll Call.

"I don't think they want to get involved in the political fights."

Davis, who convened the recent congressional hearings on steroids, added, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions from antitrust laws."

No misprint there. Davis is threatening to impose special federal regulations on MLB if they allow a staunch Democrat to become a minority owner of a baseball team.

Predictably, Democrats show that they Just Don't Get It:

Said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, in a statement: "Tom Davis should be charged with an error for this abusive political power play.

"It should be offensive not just to Democrats, but to all voting Americans that Republicans might manipulate the legislative process for partisan purposes in response to the potential purchase of a baseball team by someone who does not support the current Republican agenda."

Miller's right: it is offensive. But Tom Davis is merely a symptom of the problem. And ultimately, George Miller is just as guilty as Davis is. After all, Miller was gung-ho about participating in Davis's earlier steroids hearings. Miller's complaint isn't abuse of government power; Miller's complaint is just that the victim of that abuse is now on his side of the aisle.

What Miller will never acknowledge -- being a Big (or is it Huge?) Government Democrat -- is that Tom Davis can make such threats because people like George Miller empowered him to do so.

About June 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Jumping To Conclusions in June 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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